It can seem like such a simple thing, but the decision on table layout for your wedding or event has so many deciding factors and consequences. It can feel a little bit mind-boggling!
We've collected tips and advice from our friends in the industry to help with your choices.
Factor to consider: Venue
Firstly, consider how the layouts will look at your venue.
Does it cry out to have one opulently long table or would round tables be better at filling a large space, so it doesn't look too vast? Typically, long tables end up being able to seat fewer people in the room than round tables. These capacities make long tables great call for an intimate number of guests, whereas round tables are better for larger numbers.
Similarly, round tables are perhaps more sociable with guests being able to speak to more people than just those seated either side or opposite them and so can be great for networking and creating a real buzz in the room. They also work well for charity events as you can sell a table at a time.
Speak to your venue team; they will be able to tell you how many people their spaces can accommodate in each layout and send images of how it will look.
Our friends from The Wallace Collection Events team had this magical advice:
"For the Great Gallery, long tables are undoubtedly the most breath-taking option - whether two side by side or a single show-stopping long down the centre of the gallery. Long tables work so well in here because they mirror the layout of the space and emphasise its feeling of grandeur and exclusivity. In a room like the Great Gallery, such a set-up also gives a vibrant, dramatic sense of a focal feasting point - as portrayed in many of the paintings themselves - with long tables overflowing with luxurious meals, goblets of wine and fruit, opulent fabrics and trinkets in abundance."
"As the Courtyard is usually favoured for its versatility, round tables are a better fit to ensure easier access and guest flow. Round tables certainly grant a great deal more flexibility with the space, particularly if there is a lot of entertainment or after dinner dancing planned! We've also had clients combine the two aesthetics; with one long central table, surrounded by rounds. Mixing up the layout creates a great impact - or of course, to throw a spanner in the works, there's always ovals if you can't decide!"
Factor to Consider: Floristry
Now, this is where we can show off! For floristry, both types of table set-up have pros and cons:
Long tables can bring an opulent sense of drama and can lend themselves to unforgettably striking events because of the continuity and additional space they have in comparison to round tables.
We've made garlands that fill the full length of a table and cascades over the ends to pool across the floor.
We've laid hundreds of bud vases along the centre of a table to create delicate meadows with pops of vibrant colour.
We've built 40m canopies, supported by tabletop frames; and we've used tall candelabra and candlesticks, surrounded by low vases to create atmospheric dining experiences.
Long table designs are more expensive; it can take a lot of floristry to fill with a bigger bill to match. Look at it this way: if you have ten people sitting on one round table, you likely only need one floral arrangement for them all to see and enjoy. On long tables, guests are spaced out more so, on average, we advise one floral arrangement every four guests so that everyone has a floral piece to see and enjoy.
In light of that, round tables may work better for your budget, but this doesn't mean that we're less creative. A benefit of round tables over long tables is that you don't need consistency in design. You could have two or three different designs and alternate them across the tables; this creates an engaging, impactful, event-landscape.
In the same room - you could have candelabra with flowers beneath, fluted vases with masses of flowers on top, and a low vase design showcasing a beautiful hand-tied bouquet or lanterns. We can tie the designs together with a colour or style.
If variety is the spice of life, then round tables certainly offer it.
Factor to Consider – Catering
Your table choice can also impact your catering options. We spoke to our gorgeous friends at The Admirable Crichton to see what trends they are noticing and how long v round tables can have an effect on menus, place settings and overall aesthetic of your event.
"The current trend for long, spectacularly dressed tables shows no sign of losing any of its popularity. These showstopper tables can create that instant wow factor – the Instagram moment every bride or planner is looking for. It gives an opportunity to showcase some serious table-scaping with your choice of flowers, china, glassware and cutlery with all getting more and more elaborate.
However, long tables don't have to be dramatic to be show-stopping, sometimes the simplicity of the finished look makes it so striking. They are, of course, unique in the way they can offer both a very formal and informal dining setting – long tables are reminiscent of the kitchen table, family-style eating and convivial sharing of food and stories. They equally evoke grand dinners with formal service; we do love the impact of team service on a long table."
"Round tables are a traditionally more cost-effective option, less linen required and often seating more within the venue's capacity. They offer smaller networking and conversation opportunities and are a great option when timings are tight as service can be much quicker. For me a round table showcases the linen and chinaware better than a long table as there is more room to see it in its splendour – this is particularly true of linen.
"I love that there are so many options, we work with square and oval tables and love to mix them up in a larger room to give depth and interest to the room."
Hopefully, this gives you an insight into your options and what to consider when planning your layout. And round v long tables aren't the only option! Square formats and oval tables and also increasingly popular. Our parting advice would be that before making decisions on your layout, speak to your suppliers and ask them their thoughts. We all work together with these kinds of questions, so don't be afraid to loop them all in and get a collective input - we just want you to walk in and LOVE your event.
Peace Out & Flower Power,
Team Pinstripes & Peonies